Deep geothermal energy in the UK

  • A report for the Renewable Energy Association by consultants Sinclair Knight Mertz has suggested that geothermal energy could potentially supply 20% of UK electricity. It is claimed that 100GW of heat generating capacity could be supported by geothermal projects with a 25 year lifetime, meeting space heating needs for the UK.
  • In Germany and Switzerland the deep geothermal industry has attracted €4bn of investment now employs 6,000 people. World wide there is over 10GW of geothermal electricity generation capacity in place and additional heat supply capacity. The USA is in the lead, with over 120 new projects under development, but Germany and Japan are now taking geothermal increasingly seriously.
  • Geothermal energy in its current form is not renewable – as the local heat gradient can be exhausted after a few decades. Renewable geothermal would require rotation of the wells.
  • Geothermal energy is estimated to be worth £30bn by 2020. This provides a medium- term option for expanding energy resources, especially in the area of renewables, perhaps making the goal for 20% of energy from renewables more accessible.

Implications and next steps: Geothermal may provide an extra source of renewable energy to influence the make-up of future energy systems.

Environmental Research Web:, European Commission:

About Joao Delgado

Joao is a Research Fellow in Futures Research and leads on medium-large scale futures projects at CERF. Amongst other projects, he has led the development of scenarios for the future of river basin management for the Environment Agency. His professional interests include veterinary science, epidemiology, risk and systems thinking.
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